Rausing Hails 'Exceptional' Alpinista as Arc Winner Retires

Alpinista and Annabel Willis | Emma Berry


The six-time Group 1 winner and G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe heroine Alpinista (GB) (Frankel {GB}–Alwilda {GB}, by Hernando {Fr}) has been retired from racing after a “slight setback” and will not contest the G1 Japan Cup at the end of the month.

The 5-year-old, bred and owned by Kirsten Rausing and trained by Sir Mark Prescott, recorded her six top-level wins in consecutive starts in Germany, England and France in the last two seasons, taking her unbeaten stretch to eight races in 16 months. In total, she ran 15 times for 10 wins and two runner-up finishes, earning prize-money in excess of £3.3 million.

Following her emotional success at ParisLongchamp in early October, Alpinista had remained in training at Prescott's Heath House Stables in Newmarket with a possible swansong in Tokyo on the cards, but a decision was taken to retire her on Thursday morning after she sustained a minor injury.

Rausing, who was honoured with the Cartier/Daily Telepgraph Award of Merit at the Cartier Awards in London on Wednesday evening, said of her homebred, “She's exceptional. She is extra special to me and to anyone who has ever been around her. I feel guilty for wrenching her away from [rider/groom] Annabel Willis but, as I keep saying to Annabel, she is only going to be three miles up the road so she can come to see her any time.

“It will be great to have her home. She and her contemporary Albaflora (GB), who was twice Group 1-placed, will have pride of place here at Lanwades. They are two beauty queens and we will parade them at the stallion show during the December Sales.

“People ask me if she was my horse of a lifetime, and in many ways yes she is, but so was her grandaunt Alborada (GB), and so was Petoski (GB) before her. So, maybe every 25 or 30 years they come along, if you're lucky.”

Sir Mark Prescott, who also trained Alpinista's dam Alwilda (GB) (Hernando {Fr}) and treble Group 1-winning granddam Albanova (GB) (Alzao), said, “She had a bit of heat in her leg last night when I was at the Cartier Awards dinner. William [Butler, assistant trainer] looked round and thought there was heat in the leg. When I looked at her first thing this morning, I wasn't happy, so that's it–she retires.

“She has been marvellous and hasn't been beaten for two years, she won six Group 1s in three different countries. She has been fantastic. She will join a wonderful broodmare band at Miss Rausing's.”

On the scuppered plans for the Japan Cup, he added, “The other terrible thing is the Japanese have bent over backwards to help us and I feel very guilty. They have done absolutely everything they could to make things easy for us. I felt as guilty letting them know as I did poor Miss Rausing.

“She took it well. She never flinches. But when you are 5-2 to win six million [dollars], whoever you are, it is a blow. It would have been a big thrill to win. I think, for Miss Rausing, almost there is a tinge of relief, because the filly has done so well and it would have been so awful if something had gone wrong out there. It is never easy travelling that far and the thought of looking at her every morning over your garden fence is not a bad thought. If it is the highest-rated filly in the world outside your back door, it must give you tremendous satisfaction.

“So, it is a moderate morning. I won't find one as good as her–it has taken me 53 years to find this one.”

Alpinista is a fourth-generation descendant of the noted Lanwades matriarch Alruccaba (Ire) (Crystal Palace {Fr}), who was bought as a 3-year-old from her breeder the Aga Khan by Kirsten Rausing and Sonia Rogers. The identity of the stallion for her first mating next year has not yet been confirmed, though  Rausing had previously hinted that she may visit the champion sire-elect, Dubawi (Ire), whose fee was announced yesterday as £350,000.

Reflecting on her Cartier Award of Merit, which is awarded annually to the person deemed to have “done the most for European racing and/or breeding either over their lifetime or within the past 12 months,” Rausing added, “I was totally taken aback by the whole thing. I really would like to see the video again because you're so overwhelmed you can't really take it all in.

“It has been an absolutely extraordinary year. It's all come together but as far as I'm concerned it is all down to my marvellous home team at the three studs–Lanwades, St Simon and Staffordstown–and their combined many hundreds of years of horsemanship. A lot of my people have been with me for 25 years or more, so I am very fortunate, and of course we have been joined by young Mr. Oxx as well.”

This year, Lanwades Stud has been represented by four Group 1-winning graduates, Alpinista being joined by the St Leger winner Eldar Eldarov (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) and the Australian-trained duo of Zaaki (GB) (Leroidesanimaux {Brz}) and Durston (GB) (Sea The Moon {Ger}).

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